Sunday, July 22, 2007

Life at the FPB

Author's note: I will now pick up where I left off during my two weeks at the FPB.

It's a totally different kind of life out here. Join me in a tour of the Forward Patrol Base.

We live in a self built aid station. The walls are HESCOS filled with dirt. The roof we made when we arrived using all the crappy wood we could find. The door is simply a tent flap hanging over the opening. The floor is made of wooden pallets, so you have to watch your step or risk rolling your ankle. All of our medical supplies are in various crates and bags hanging on the HESCOS with tent stakes and zip ties. We sleep on the same litters where we treat our patients. The flies and other bugs are rampant so we sleep inside bed nets. It is over 100 degrees every day which leads to constant sweating and a uniform that consists of flip flops and shorts and nothing else. We also have a fire pit out in front of the Aid Station for field cooking.

There are two toilets. The first is a pipe jammed into the ground at a 45 degree angle. It rises out of the dirt and stops at about waist level. This is our urinal pipe. It's for male soldiers only. The second is the outhouse. It has two seats and of course you can see the guy next to you when you are trying to poop. More interesting than the outhouse itself is the way the waste is taken care of. The local workers open the bottom of the outhouse and take out the sawed-off metal barrels full of poop. Then they take it to the burn pit and pour in a mixture of kerosene and diesel. So whenever we walk by we get a nostril full of stink from the big bucket of burning poop. Yes, I did use the word poop, stop giggling.

We have a field shower. It is a 5 gallon plastic bag that hangs above a wooden pallet. We fill it with old bottled water deemed unsafe to drink. The shower is always hot because the water sits in the scorching sun all day. I love the shower, because after walking a third of a mile in full battle rattle i'm already sweatier and dirtier than any day in the States ever.

We don't have a chow hall up here. Just a large metal shipping container full of snacks. The outside of the container is piled high with MRE's. MRE stands for Meals Ready to Eat, or if you ask other soldiers, Meals Rejected by Ethiopians. They send the most random snacks though. One day a pallet showed up with over a thousand muffins. There's less than 30 american soldiers up here eating this stuff. The muffins are perishable also, so I have no idea why they sent over a thousand.

We don't have a washing machine. We have a bucket and laundry detergent. After srubbing the salt stains out of our uniforms we just hang them in the sun. Where they dry in minutes.

There is a "gym" of sorts. It's a set of iron weights and a couple of decrepit weight benches. Us medics placed some poles across the entrance of our aid station. We use them to do pull-ups and dips. We get plently of cardio on missions walking through the mountains. But on our off days we run up the mountain face where the base is located. When I say "run" I mean "run halfway, then trot, then become so tired you just are hiking until you reach the top.

Coming up: "Just for the record, this is a bad idea."


Guillermo said...

Those who can laugh at the word "poop" have a childish heart.

Those who can't laugh at the words "burning poop" have no heart at all.

shelly said...

Now THIS is the stuff.

More about poop, please.

Emily said...

eat up! As comedian Jim Gaffigan says: "We're always trying to find creative ways to eat cake...sneak it in there. Like muffins...we all know a muffin is just a bald cupcake...and the mini-muffin, are we kidding ourselves? That just makes it easy to have 1 or 12..."